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Campus Culture

Yes, Hawaiʻi is a US state, but it is the most isolated land mass in the world. In the center of the Pacific, it has influences from all its neighbors, including Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines and Pacific Islands you may have never heard of.

In addition, if you spend the time to research the history of Hawaiʻi you will find strong roots of a kingdom which, like Kīlauea volcano, lives just under the surface and has a strong influence on life here. As such, it is best to treat the culture with as much respect as any foreign country.

Here is rundown of campus culture. Though there is a fair amount of overlap with island culture, there are some notable differences.

About UH Hilo


If you're from the mainland: Congratulations! You are now in a minority. It's a wonderful experience to be on the other side of this coin, just like the experience of traveling to a foreign country.

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UH Hilo: At a Glance

Fast Facts 2017

Fact Figure
Island Hawai‘i
Location Hilo
Established 1947
Total Degrees Awarded (2016-17) 955
Baccalaureate (BA, BAS, BS, etc) 798
Master's 62
Doctorate 4
Professional Practice (JD, MD, PharmD) 91
Total Enrollment 3,539
Undergraduate 2,971
Graduate 568
Mean Age in Years 25.0
Men 38%
Women 62%
Student:Faculty Ratio 18:1

Student Diversity (full-time students)

Chart showing student diversity at Hilo; 26% Hawaiian/Part-Hawaiian; 7% Filipino; 3% Chinese; 7% Japanese; 6% Pacific Islander; 14% All Other; 13% Mixed; 26% Caucasian

Residency %
Hawai‘i 71.9%
U.S. Mainland 20.1%
International & US Territories 8.0%

_Figures from the Institutional Research and Analysis Office

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Campus Map

Map of UH Hilo Campus
View an interactive map of UH Hilo, as well as printable maps, on the maps page

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With students from a huge variety of ethnic backgrounds, UH Hilo is a great place to learn about other cultures. Many students from Hawai'i come from mixed ethnic backgrounds (e.g., Hawaiian, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese, Chinese, Puerto Rican). And students come from about 35 different countries, spanning from Europe to Asia to South America to Oceania. One of the highlights on campus each spring is the annual International Nights, at which student groups and clubs showcase their cultures in a variety of performances. Consider this amazing ethnic, cultural and geographic diversity an opportunity to be immersed in cultures the world over.

In 2014, the University of Hawaiʻi was rated the most diverse campus in the United States by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Exploring the Island

Even if you don't have a car there are several ways to go out and see the island. Making friends with locals is certainly an option, as is joining clubs that go on trips and adventures.

If you find yourself bored here, it's probably because you're locking yourself in your room and only studying or hanging out on campus. You may want to try Outdoor EdVentures which takes you on field trips on Saturdays and Sundays all over the island, such as Hapuna Beach, South Point, and Volcanoes National Park, to go swimming, hiking, kayaking and stargazing.

For more information visit the Outdoor EdVenture page.

Big Island with pictures of and/or taken by NSE students connected to specific points on the island

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